Are we all rosé drinkers now? The combination of an extraordinarily sunny spring, and the fact that everyone is at home, means that orders for pink wine have been stratospheric.
“Our rosé stocks were hoovered up when that first warm spell hit. We had to clear more shipments as quickly as possible,” says Mark Roberts at Decorum Vintners. Likewise the much-loved Château La Mascaronne own-label at Berry Bros & Rudd sold out in April – though happily it is back in stock. Elsewhere, rosés have been coming and going as merchants deftly secure new allocations and manage their stock flow.
There are many excellent bottles here, whether pale pink wines with a gentle scent of red berries; the other sort of pale pink, the ones that are more herbaceous and savoury and work better with food; and those with deeper, richer flavours.
If you want to explore a range of styles, consider buying a few, or mixing a case from rosé specialist Yapp, which has many more excellent wines than I was able to include. Then sit back and soak up the golden evening light with a glass of pale pink in your hand. We may not be able to travel but we can still enjoy the summer.
Montgravet Cinsault Rosé 2019, Pays d’Oc, France
(12%, Waitrose, in-store now or online from June 5, £5.99)
Cinsault is one of the grapes often found in Provence rosés and also in Lebanese blends, to which it brings smoothing, binding quality, as orris root does to gin. Here it makes a perfect everyday rosé – simple, not soapy, slightly leafy and with a gentle cranberry and floral perfume.
Côtes du Rhône Rosé Le Theatre Eden 2019, France
(13%, M&S, £8)
I know everyone hankers for rosé from Provence, but at this price level you get better wine from elsewhere, and I love this one. Pale enough to scratch the Provence itch, and made with a similar blend of grapes (grenache, cinsault and syrah), it has just a little more weight and fullness. It’s sleek and smooth, with a soft pink taste.
Ch Sainte Eulalie Printemps d’Eulalie 2019, Minervois, France
(14%, The Wine Society, £8.50)
A pale-to-mid-pink wine that is dry and carries a distinctive sense of place (and personality) on its red fruit and whiff of dried herbs. Equal parts grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and cinsault, the alcohol is high for a rosé, but this is a firm, savoury wine that opens up like a huge cave. Brilliant for outdoor dinners.
Château du Rouët Cuvée Réservée Tradition 2019, Côtes de Provence, France
(13%, Co-op, 500+ branches, £8.50 for 50cl)
From the tactile curves of the bottle to the barely-there pale pink of the wine, everything about this says “summer holiday on the Côte d’Azur”. Chateau Rouët is up in the craggy hills between Fréjus and Draguignan, but the wine – a handy 50cl bottle – can be on your table tomorrow.
Umanu Gris de Cinsault Sciaccarellu Ile de Beauté 2019, Corsica IGP
(12%, The Wine Society, £8.95)
For those who like their rosé savoury, scented like maquis and green olives and very, very sheer, this extremely pale, salmon-pink-coloured wine is superb. Very understated indeed but, like spider silk, it has surprising tenacity and persistence. The grapes are cinsault and sciaccarellu – a local Corsican variety.
Thierry Delaunay Le Manoir Rosé 2019, France
(13.5%, Majestic, £8.99/11.99 mix six/single bottle price)
A change of pace here: gamay, cabernet franc and malbec combine in this mid-pale rosé from the Loire, the garden of France. It’s juicy but tart, with the fresh taste of crunchy, juicy woodland berries and rosehips, the smell of flowering currant leaves and a sappy vigour.
Esprit de Buganay Côtes de Provence 2019, France
(13%, Waitrose, £8.99 down from £13.49 until June 30)
This isn’t a wine for which I would pay full price, but on offer it is a perfectly serviceable Provence rosé – pale and gently flavoured with hints of red berries.
Notte Rossa Primitivo Rosado 2019, Salento, Italy
(12.5%, M&S, £9)
For those who like sweeter, darker, more fruity rosés, this one from Italy’s heel is reminiscent of sweetened stewed damsons with purple boiled sweets and the faint waft of rosemary and thyme from the other side of the garden.
The Society’s Corsican Rosé 2019, Corsica
(12.5%, The Wine Society, £10.50)
Where Umanu is lean and savoury, this dry Corsican rosé has a fuller (slightly grainy), rounder texture and is more pink in both appearance and flavour. It’s lovely, made mostly from niellucciu (aka sangiovese) with a lot of sciaccarellu and a bit of grenache, vermentino and cinsault. Provence fans will be delighted with this pair.
Domaine Pique Roque Rosé 2019, Côtes de Provence, France
(12.5%, Haynes, Hanson & Clark, £12.45/£11 single bottle/unmixed case price)
An extremely good, shimmeringly pale pink made up in the hills of the Var department of Provence. The blend is syrah, grenache and cinsault with 20 per cent cabernet sauvignon. Has a gentle, red-berry-scented nose with a crisp structure and herbaceous twist.
Domaine Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rosé 2019, France
(12.5%, Yapp, £12.95)
There is a real joy to this Loire rosé, which dances brightly and fragrantly out of the glass, a mass of crunchy redcurrants and perfumed redcurrant leaves. Dry, but quite deeply coloured, this would go beautifully with lamb chops griddled on the barbecue, lamb burgers or a pomegranate and chicken salad. A delight.
Les Quatre Tours Signature 2019, Côteaux d’Aix en Provence, France
(13%, Stone, Vine & Sun, £12.95)
A very evocative wine, this one, with a thick scent of wild strawberries and ripe nectarines and a touch of sandalwood on the nose. It’s on the pinkly fruity rather than the leanly herbal side of things, but delicious. One for deckchair drinking with a good book.
MiP* Classic Rosé Made in Provence 2019, Côtes de Provence, France
(12.5%, Lea & Sandeman, £14.95/£13.50 case)
A bestseller for Lea & Sandeman, whose customers love the combination of very pale wine, skein of herbs and gentle nectarine sweetness.
Ch. La Canorgue 2019, Luberon, France
(13%, Yapp.co.uk, £15.95)
Château La Canorgue sits just beneath the hilltop village of Bonnieux in the heart of the Luberon. This richly coloured rosé is full-flavoured but completely dry, with luscious flavours of baked raspberries and a slight whiff of biscuity pastry. The grapes are grenache and syrah. This would be gorgeous with a burger or blackened kebabs.
Ch. la Mascaronne Provence Rosé 2019, Côtes de Provence, France
(13.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, £15.95)
This pale pink has already sold out once this year but the new shipment is in. Tom Bove, the general manager of the estate since 1999, also managed Château Miraval until it was sold to Brangelina in 2012 and he clearly has a sure touch: this is a very good, and reassuring, wine.
Château Léoube Rosé de Léoube 2019, Côtes de Provence, France
(13%, Daylesford.com, £17.49)
Château Léoube in Bormes-Les-Mimosas has been owned by the organically-minded Bamford family for more than 20 years (other family businesses are JCB and Daylesford). Under the direction of Romain Ott it makes excellent pale pink wines.
Domaine Saparale Corse Sartene 2019, Corsica
(13%, Yapp.co.uk, £17.50)
Provence rosé fans are increasingly catching on to the fact that Corsica also makes superb pale pink wines. Well, Yapp was there first. This is a perennial favourite: it has a purity, a finesse and a clean, savoury, herbal cut that rivals the best from Provence. It also sells out fast, so act quickly.
AIX Rosé 2019, Côteaux d’Aix en Provence, France
(Majestic, £22.48/29.99 mix six/single bottle price for a 150cl magnum)
Do you have a large and thirsty household? If so there are two good magnums to consider – this is more pink in colour and flavour, all watermelon and red fruit. Mirabeau Pure (waitrose.com, down from £29.99 to £22.49 from June 3-30) is a more herbal, savoury, pale take on rosé.
Clos Sainte Magdeleine Cassis Rosé 2019, France
(13%, Yapp.co.uk, £23.75)
A magical wine made close to the fishing town of Cassis, this is at once weightless, so light in the mouth, but also complex (they use natural yeast) and one of those invisibly persistent spider’s silk wines that has more to it than you initially realise. Or can explain. Utter bliss.
Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rosé 2018, France
Bandol, in Provence, makes very fine rosé and this one is simply superb. Mourvèdre is the key variety here and the grapes come from an organic estate in a valley that opens up to the blue Mediterranean. The wine has a delicate firmness and precision that makes it very rewarding to sip.